Ministry health

Ministry of Health recommends further relaxation of COVID airport restrictions

The Health Ministry on Wednesday recommended easing COVID-19 restrictions as the fifth wave of infections fueled by the Omicron variant continues to recede.

The ministry recommended ending the quarantine requirement for Israeli travelers returning from abroad and proof of Green Pass vaccine required at events.

The ministry’s other recommendations include rescinding the requirement for returning travelers to present a COVID test at the airport before boarding a flight to Israel (although testing in Ben Gurion after landing will remain) and the end of quarantine for unvaccinated children traveling abroad.

Unvaccinated non-Israeli children under the age of 12 should be allowed entry if accompanied by vaccinated parents, and be required to self-isolate until they receive a negative test result, the ministry said. . Unvaccinated non-Israelis over the age of 12 should not be allowed to enter the country.

Health Minister Nitzan Horovitz took part in Wednesday evening’s discussions.

The recommendations are still subject to government approval. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is due to meet on Thursday to decide on the recommendations and would favor lifting most of the restrictions.

Israel is currently one of the only countries in the world that requires returning travelers to test themselves twice – before boarding a plane to Israel and upon landing.

Currently, restrictions require unvaccinated children returning to Israel to be quarantined for five days. If the recommendations are approved, they will be subject to the same restrictions as vaccinated children and must be tested at Ben Gurion airport upon landing and remain in quarantine for up to 24 hours.

Newly arrived passengers from Kiev walk with their luggage at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport on February 13, 2022. (Jack Guez / AFP)

The new measures should also include ending the use of Green Pass vaccine evidence at all cultural and public events and gatherings.

Currently, the Green Pass certificate only grants access to certain public places and events to people who have been vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19, or recently tested negative for the virus. Some Green Pass rules were already relaxed earlier this month.

The obligation to wear protective masks in enclosed spaces and the existing rules for the education system should remain in place.

Earlier Wednesday, Hebrew-language media reported that Bennett was considering phasing out all COVID-related restrictions by March 1, in light of the continued decline of the fifth wave.

Data released by the Ministry of Health on Wednesday morning showed that the wave of COVID-19 infection caused by the Omicron variant continued to recede, with the number of patients in serious condition falling to 927, a drop of 50 from compared to the day before.

The number of daily infections also continued its downward trend, with 20,340 new cases diagnosed on Tuesday. At the height of the outbreak in January, there were a record 85,185 infections in one day.

Of the 108,571 virus tests carried out on Tuesday, 18.73% were positive, the lowest rate in more than a month.

There were 169,436 active patients and five new deaths, bringing the death toll to 9,651.

Bennett is said to have taken a view that the public should be given as much freedom as possible while authorities at the same time prepare for the possibility of another wave.

Bennett’s reported attitude appeared to counter that of national coronavirus czar Salman Zarka, who said Sunday that despite the steady decline in morbidity, it was too early to declare an end to the current outbreak and that no decision was made. was ready to be taken to further roll back COVID restrictions.

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